Thursday, 30 July 2009

Two short trips this year

Ok, this is outdated - we took a day trip to Malacca on 31 May. My impression of Malacca wasn't the best after my first trip some years back but now, I think I will go back again.

We visited Sito's relatives - the house was super 懐かしい, reminding me of the one my paternal grandmother used to work in many years ago. They brought us to a little teahouse for breakfast - mee siam etc, spicy but good - before running some errands. The shopping malls were great and if we had more time, I could have spent some money :p

After lunch at a quaint little place whose name I forgot, Sito's cousins brought us to this Gi Kiat Huay for the yummiest chendol ever, topped with superb gula melaka. I will go back again even if it is just for the chendol!

Then more recently, we went to Surabaya at the height of H1N1. I have not taken a budget airline until 10 July.

Sito: How did you go places in Europe?
mf: KLM, BA, British Midlands, SAS...
Sito: ... How much did you save in those four years?
mf: Discounting the £500 I brought with me, maybe average of £100 a year..?

:p

I know, I'm horrible! But my usage of the internet back then was different I guess.. And somehow, I was horribly disillusioned that STA was the cheapest for students. Maybe so for normal airlines but I could have got budget airlines!

Anyway, the journey was an interesting one. There was no food except for a cold muffin. We kept them. As we touched down, we saw a plane that was quite a wreck on the grass - rather scary but..

Sito: Maybe they keep it for the spare parts..

:p

Then, we got off the plane and walked towards the arrival hall. There was only a handful of shops selling things so no shopping. Before we hit the checkpoints, we had to go through this machine. We were the first ones there and saw that the bags must go under this metal railing that didn't look like a scanner... But we just put through and guess what, the thing sprayed disinfectant on the bags!

And next to the railing was a doorway with a woman standing on the other side. She was speaking in bahasa but she was also pointing so I followed and put my hands into two black holes and pssst!! Then I was waved through and pssst! I was disinfected too!

Singaporeans don't need to be paranoid about H1N1 - other countries are more scared of us!

And along the way, I realised this was the first time I was in Indonesia Indonesia, not an Indonesian island :p

Outside the airport, we quickly found our meet-&-greet. But it took a while to wait for everyone - not too pleasant with smoke and a lot of people - before we got to this school bus - the seats were for tinier butts than ours *.* And it has no luggage compartment..

My seat's recline was spoilt and was almost horizontal if not for our luggage on the seat behind. Sito swapped with me so that I could sit upright but he had to keep his hands up else he had no room!

Hotel should be better...

And it was!

We got our room card from the dance competition organiser - oh yes, that was the purpose of going to Surabaya - and signed in for our number - 52.

Our room at Java Paragon was nice - at the 19th floor so we had a great view. The city looked nice and neat. We had a buffet dinner at the hotel that night instead of going to a welcome party by the organisers.

The competition was held in a convention centre some 30 minutes away, which was a bother. Although our competition was in the afternoon, we thought to make use of the morning practice slot for latin dancers to test the dance floor. So we woke quite early to pack our gear, do my hair :p

Results? We didn't make it past the heats this time. Waltz was slightly better; we went as far as the second round of heats. Oh well, we tried :)

So, we treated ourselves for our hard work with a dinner at Ah Yat, also in the hotel. Yup, we didn't venture out much :p We also had a massage in the hotel - turn this into a mini holiday, yeah!

We left on the third day, which was a very long day.. After checking in, we found the customs chaps on their lunch break, i.e. no one to process our passports! Isn't such work supposed to be rotated by shifts??

Before we left for the airport, we were just talking with some chaps from the studio that the Jetstar flight timings were better compared to SQ - we could get back to Singapore just before dinner time. But unfortunately, our flight was delayed for almost three hours, and the SQ flight took off first!! It was really irritating, cos there were only three shops in the airport! I really appreciate Changi Airport..

Took some photos in our room:

Sunday, 26 July 2009

It's starting to end..

Feeling happier now, and not lest because I am 99 days to the end of my bond :)

Checked my bond after reading a link a friend posted on facebook: http://s-pores.com/2009/07/once-bonded

I wouldn't say I agree with the entire article - each is a different experience, I suppose.

Some time along the course of my university - I think it was after my "huh-what's-happening" mid-term internship at MICA or then-MITA -, I did wonder if I had made the right choice when I was 19. How the hell would a kid know that she wanted a job in the civil service? And this was a fluffy girl, mind you..

But I turned 23, graduation year, and I realised I still had not figured out what I wanted to do with my life. Might as well go with the flow - follow through with the decision I made four years earlier, choose something interesting and perhaps I might like it..?

So one thing led to another, and eventually my last post. After many months of thinking and agonising, I'm glad that I have finally decided it is time to move on (soon).

Just the other day, Sito asked me if I wanted to be a housewife. No, I don't. I want to be a stay-at-home mum! :p That's different from a housewife ok.. I want to be with our kids when they're young, and at the same time, be able to do some freelance work from home so that I can have an income to support Mother and buy presents for my family.

So I put to action some plans that started brewing about a year ago.

Firstly, I found a short course on translation. But the course date was postponed a number of times. On Friday, I finally got a notification that it would start in September :) And yesterday, I finally signed up for a diploma in Montessori education after much research into the various schools and courses.

My plans are slowly falling into place :))

It's interesting how we can change. As a child, I had imagined myself strutting down Raffles Place purposefully, black suit and all. You know, having a better life than my parents. By my late teens, that had gone out of the window. I was - still am - rather meek and didn't think of any big things. I told a friend then that 我胸无大志 - and I told another that 我手上有一颗 (痣) :p Moving on to university was then a natural thing to do after JC; I didn't think about where that might then lead to. I didn't think, period.

So it is quite significant that I have taken those two important steps forward - for once, I thought, and I planned for them to happen :)

And it so happens that Sito also started acting on his plans in the past week. So both of us have new goals to work towards - we are happy! :)

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

人在江湖,身不由己?

These words - with the question mark - came into my mind this morning as I walked to the hawker centre. I cannot remember exactly why now but it was related to work.

Perhaps a premonition, cos I got a lot of shit from emails when I logged on. And at 10.30 am, I sat in for some interviews with potential recruits. When the last interviewee started talking about work-life balance etc, I had a most awful thought: I hate my life.

This wasn't the first time I had this thought. But I would always catch myself and tell myself that no, I don't hate my life; I just hate work.

But this morning, it took me a while to rationalise my thoughts that what I really hated was my working life, not life itself.

I wrote that I felt like crying earlier due to work. It happened again a few months later and I succumbed. I'm now feeling like it's going to happen again if I'm not careful =(

We're headed for Hokkaido for a holiday next month - I'm looking forward to it but I also dread the accumulated emails waiting for me ever so patiently in my inbox..

Still remember my horror after a much needed two-week break in Japan in September 2007 - I had a good time in Japan away from work only to return to a mad house of work. My question: is the trade-off necessary? Shouldn't my leave be real leave?

Related this to Kel et al over dinner and drinks one day after that. Moh said I was hardworking; Kel said I wasn't - I just worked hard.. 知我者也! Of course if given a choice, I wouldn't be working hard hence I am not hardworking!!

This evening, I sms CY and Kel about hating my working life - glad they understood. And Kel said something funny, that usually he would send that kind of msg to me instead :p Threw up all my unhappiness about work to Yan over dinner too. And as I write this, I'm feeling better.. So let me continue..

Some time ago, I was trying to analyse such negative emotions - unhappiness, stress, feeling hassled, dissatisfaction, even resentment. I realised that I had lost motivation to work because I ceased to see meaning in it when my life was negatively affected by my work.

There was this time when I was asking a colleague for urgent inputs but she was away from office with her children - school holidays.

mf: Meeting is tomorrow am =(
She: And my kids will only be this age today and never again.

What could I say? I have no case. But that really hit home. Because I suddenly understood that for every day that I worked and worked, my every today has been lost. When I turned 28 last year, I realised that the previous year kind of just suddenly disappeared; déjà vu when I turned 29 this year - time flies when you're happy; time disappears when you're busy.

I still remember that for a very long time, before Sg Day 2007, I was still very enthusiastic about work. I would wake at 6.30am to reach office before 8am, and while I loved the weekends, I actually looked forward to getting work done during the workweek. After Sg Day 2007, I was tired out by the work trip and never fully recovered. Things just went downhill from there.

Now, I quite dread Mondays and throughout the workweek, I am just looking forward to the weekend and praying hard that there won't be a need to work over the weekend. In fact, during those really tough days last year, I went to work with only one thought: to finish work and head back to bed, hopefully earlier than 3am the previous night.

But at least it was meaningful work last year. There were concrete, visible deliverables. I downloaded our lovely campaign banners off CNA website, I cut out and kept the posters in newspaper - they are testament to my blood and sweat.

Now, my job scope has changed - the main thing is quantitative research and I really don't like crunching numbers, nevermind my degree!

I should really leave this job. What has it done to me? I want my life and family to be the top priority but I have realised that whenever I have work, I would feel so obliged to do it that I neglect my life, my real self. It's a bit scary, to be honest.

Actually, why do people work?

a) For survival;
b) To contribute to something;
c) For money / fame; or
d) No reason, just a natural thing to work when you have a degree?

Re (a), I'm in a way working to support myself and Mother. But I can do that with any job.

Re (b), contribute to what? I'm happy to be able to contribute to people around me - be a listening ear when they need me, bring joy and laughter to those around me. I don't need to contribute to bigger causes.

Re (c), is it worth working so hard to put your kids through the best college only to miss everything else about life? When I die, I want to remember times actually spent with my loved ones, not how I managed to provide for my loved ones albeit not being there.

Re (d), colleague was just saying how we could be bound by our degree. Cos of it, we aim to do something that does justice to it. Why can't I take a degree just for interest? Must it lead to work that justifies the learning?

I have been thinking about leaving my job. But there are various considerations. I do understand that these are not the worst working hours, compared to lawyers, bankers etc. While I also cannot compare remuneration with these jobs, mine is honestly sufficient to raise a family well if Sito and I continue working. And the benefits and flexibility are really good - I can take leave easily, accumulated work notwithstanding.

Practical things aside, I feel attached to the organisation cos I had a hand in setting it up - on paper and right down to the renovation! And I really like the people here. I have had fond memories of tough times when only team spirit and good cheer fuelled us. This place has also given me a lot of opportunities for professional and personal development. I have very good and understanding bosses. The leadership is strong and the way we work is, in my opinion, considerably more efficient than some other organisations I have heard of. It is overall a very good working environment.

I just cannot stand the work itself.

So, I was imagining, right there in the interview room, that I would be very sad to leave this place. But right there in the interview room, I finally came to the conclusion that I must leave. The question is when.

After the interviews, the first thing I did was to do a rough calculation of how much bond I had remaining - in monetary terms: about $10,000. Not a big sum but why should I pay to quit? :p And in any case, I had unfinished business - to record institutional knowledge so that I can leave with peace of mind.

In the meantime, I refuse to be a martyr to work! I will have a life that is not just work!!

Tomorrow, I am going to the gym at 6pm - not lest of office blackout (due to renovation) at that time..!

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

First of July

Just as yesterday marked the end of half of 2009, today marks the start of the march towards the end of the year.

And I've decided that if I cannot think of a suitable title, I'll just use the date :p

Just a few randoms...

1)
Last night, I heard a loud thud and the next thing I knew, MZ was screaming that someone splashed paint on our door! I went out and saw a small splash of red - I wondered what caused that loud sound... Anyway, I called the police.

While waiting, YQ called our neighbour from upstairs - it was his ex-tenant who owed loansharks money! I just saw the O$P$ and the door number the other day, at the stairs.. Nowadays the loansharks are either blur or, more likely, employing a new tactic - stress thy neighbour!! Just a couple of months back, my next-door neighbour got the same thing...

When the police arrived, I thought YQ handled it pretty well so I went back to sleep... Think they took some pictures and gave YQ some instructions..

2)
I was in the office the other day. A colleague said bye and I was the last one in the office. Shortly, I heard the door bell ring. Did she forget something? I hit the release button but no one came in... So I went out of the glass door to the wooden door with that bell, opened it and found nobody! Then I realised that for someone to ring that bell, he/she had to get through the locked door before that!

I had all rights to freak out!

After calming myself down on the way back to my desk, making sure that the doors closed behind me, I lasted barely 15 minutes (not bad already!) before I hurriedly packed my things and left =(

Asked security guards if they went to checked 14th floor - not yet.. But they mentioned a girl went by. Maybe it was my colleague? But no! I asked the next day =(

This was different from the last time when I walked into the lift lobby and heard a loud yelp from the stairwell - had such a huge scare I fled to the toilet! Then I realised it should be a workman from another level - sounded like it..

Anyway, today I left shortly after the second last chap left...

How? Like this how to work in office at night?! =( I don't like to work at home at night...

3)
Because I like to watch dramas and anime at night! :p

Finished Macross Frontier recently. (That's why I can blog now :p) Can't get the song Seikan Hikou out of my head - it's really nice!!

4)
Update on an earlier post - put back a bit of weight but surprisingly, it kind of remained steady for the past three weeks. Quite happy :)

5)
I proposed to do X at work, twice. Didn't go through. Then someone who was n pay grades above me suggested X - or some form of it.

*ding ding ding* I self-assessed that my CEP wasn't too bad after all!

Then the next day, someone who was N pay grades above me suggested Y. Hey, I said that just a week ago!

*ding ding ding* I think my CEP just went through the roof! Woohoo!

I have decided that I should put my brains to better use - I shall strive to be a Montessori teacher :)

6)
And finally, can someone tell me why Mother, aged 63 and who doesn't know English, would tell me one night that Prison Break was getting exciting?? I don't even know what the show is about! *.*
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